Titian - The Lady in White

by Anne Mrosowksi


A splendidly dressed girl captivates the viewer with her deep brown eyes. Due to her delicate pallor, rosy cheeks and soft red lips, the lady in white appears distinguished and youthful. Her pearl jewelry, golden accessories and noble fan also suggest the girl's elevated social position. The famous Italian painter Titian was able to skillfully emphasize the elegant expression of the girl through her depiction in the pyramidal construction and the use of subtle colors. With the sweeping lines, the dramatic turns, which Titian achieved through the effective use of shades of light and dark, the painter created a new conception of painting, which is stylistically between the Renaissance and the Baroque - Mannerism . This noble, metallic effect is reinforced by Titian's high-quality glazing technique.

It is not by chance that the girl is dressed in white, which, against the dark background, draws all the viewer's attention to the protagonist. The white color was understood as the epitome of divine light and the sum of all colors - thus it stood for the infinite love of God, for perfection, enlightenment and innocence. As a sign of utmost piety and purity, it was actually reserved for the Pope to wrap himself in white robes.


The lady in white cannot be assigned to any clear historical figure by art scholars. Was it Titian's own daughter Lavinia, about whom he spoke so lovingly in letters? Was it the illegitimate child Emilia, the result of a later relationship? Was it even one of Titian's mistresses, a courtesan? The fan and the wardrobe could also suggest that the lady in white was a Venetian bride. It is also possible that Titian depicted a fictional figure that expressed for him the ideal of female beauty. It is left to the viewer to make a judgment on this.


Titian - The Lady in White

Oil on canvas, 1555, 82 x 102 cm, Old Masters Picture Gallery in Dresden

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